SUU Announces $7.5 Million from Dixie and Anne Leavitt

Published: March 24, 2015 | Author: Jennifer Burt | Read Time: 3 minutes

Holding back his emotions at the conclusion of Southern Utah University’s Founders’ Day celebration Thursday, March 19, President Scott L Wyatt announced the largest single gift in the history of SUU’s — $7.5 million from the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation.

$5 million will go toward the construction of a new building for the University’s School of Business and $2.5 million will support student scholarships.

“Throughout the years, the Leavitt’s have stepped forward to help SUU in its most critical moments, this gift will transform Southern Utah University,” President Wyatt explained. “The most difficult part of finalizing this gift was convincing Dixie and Anne to let me announce it. They wanted it to be anonymous, but I wanted the University and our community to be able to express its gratitude. And we need more role models like them for our students, examples of hard work, good character and family devotion.”

Dixie and Anne Leavitt are extraordinary examples of individuals from very humble beginnings who found remarkable success. On his 18th birthday in August 1947, Dixie Leavitt came to Cedar City from Bunkerville, Nevada to attend the Branch Agricultural College. Two years later, Anne Okerlund arrived from Loa, Utah. The couple worked hard and excelled in their studies. Dixie served as student body president and was BAC’s first four-year letterman in football and track and field. Anne came to the school armed with a $25 scholarship and was deeply active in student affairs, most notably in music and theater.

Upon Dixie’s graduation, he began teaching fourth grade at Cedar City West Elementary, but switched his career to insurance, paving the way for the establishment of The Leavitt Group, now the 7th largest privately held insurance brokerage in the nation. Dixie and Anne both have served in many roles for their church, community and state. Dixie was a member of the Utah State Legislature for 18 years. 

Dixie and Anne have always responded to calls for assistance by the University at critical moments in its history. As a member of the Utah Legislature, Dixie shepherded the advancement of the Branch Agricultural College to independent status and then assisted in Southern Utah State College achieving university status.

Anne responded to an invitation to write an account of the university and authored the definitive history, Southern Utah University: The First 100 Years.

When the University needed student housing, Dixie and Anne responded by building apartments for both single and married students and when the University needed more scholarships, they gave knowing they were contributing to student success and the lives of others from humble beginnings. As their business expanded and profits grew, they established the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation to support the University in perpetuity. 

Now, with the expansion of the University’s School of Business they have responded to the request to provide the first gift toward a new building.

Stuart Jones, vice president for Advancement and Enrollment Services, said, “This gift kicks off our fundraising campaign for the new Business Building. With the momentum of the Leavitt’s gift we have quickly secured a second donation of $500,000 and plan to raise an additional 3 or 4 million dollars toward the project.”

SUU has outgrown its current business building, which will be repurposed for other student educational needs. Since the construction of the current business building in 1980, the number of business majors has more than doubled and the school has added new programs, including master’s degrees in management and accounting. 

The new home of SUU’s School of Business will be constructed with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in order to prepare business leaders for the future.

Dixie and Anne Leavitt are the parents to six sons, each of which have contributed greatly in their own right to the advancement of the University, community, state and nation. They have 38 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

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